THE current acting deputy chief constable of Cheshire Police is the frontrunner to take over the helm as the force's chief constable.

Darren Martland, who served in other police forces across the north west before moving to Cheshire Constabulary in 2017, has been confirmed as the county's police and crime commissioner's preferred candidate for the job.

The appointment panel was chaired by PCC David Keane with support from leaders across Cheshire.

A spokesman for Mr Keane's office said panel members had a professional knowledge and understanding of the criminal justice system.

Mr Keane added: “This has been a highly competitive process with applications from high quality candidates.

"I’d like to thank the appointment panel who provided me with their expert opinion and advice.

"I am pleased to announce that Darren Martland has been selected as the preferred candidate for chief constable.”

The appointment is subject to a confirmation hearing by the Cheshire police and crime panel who will review the proposed appointment at a confirmation hearing.

A date for this hearing will be confirmed by the panel.

The force has been without a chief constable since previous incumbent Simon Byrne was suspended in 2017 amid accusations that he had bullied and humiliated staff.

However, Mr Byrne was later cleared of all allegations against him following a lengthy inquiry.

The 55-year-old's contract with the force expired prior to the conclusion of the hearing.

Janette McCormick has held the post of acting chief constable with the force since Mr Byrne’s suspension.